Toronto Maple Leafs: What to know before NHL restarts pandemic-shortened season

Sheldon Keefe took over the head coaching job from Mike Babcock in November

The Toronto Maple Leafs, the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference, have the competitive edge going into the Stanley Cup qualifying round against the Columbus Blue Jackets with one of the most loaded offenses in the league.

New coach Sheldon Keefe took over for Mike Babcock in November and changed the dynamics of the team quickly, going 15-4-1 in his first 20 games, recording the best start of any coach in the franchise’s history.

Forward Auston Matthews flourished under the new system, ranking third in the league in goals, just one shy of leaders David Pastrnak and Alex Ovechkin. John Tavares’ production slowed this season compared to his first in Toronto but as team captain, he’s sure to step up in the qualifying round.

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QUICKLOOK

Division: Atlantic (3rd)

Record: 35-26-9

Coach: Sheldon Keefe

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ROSTER

Forwards: 

Kyle Clifford, Pierre Engvall, Frederik Gauthier, Zach Hyman, Andreas Johnsson, Kasperi Kapanen, Alexander Kerfoot, Denis Malgin, Mitchell Marner, Auston Matthews, Ilya Mikheyev, William Nylander, Nic Petan, Nicholas Robertson, Jason Spezza, John Tavares

Defensemen: 

Tyson Barrie, Cody Ceci, Travis Dermott, Justin Holl, Timothy Liljegren, Martin Marincin, Jake Muzzin, Morgan Rielly, Calle Rosen, Rasmus Sandin

Goaltenders: 

Frederik Andersen, Jack Campbell, Kasimir Kaskisuo, Joseph Woll

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SCHEDULE 

The Maple Leafs will compete in the Stanley Cup Qualifiers beginning on Aug. 1 when they take on the Blue Jackets in a best of five series.

Game 1: Sunday, Aug. 2, 8 p.m.

Game 2: Tuesday, Aug. 4, 4 p.m.

Game 3: Thursday, Aug. 6, TBD

Game 4 (if needed): Friday, Aug. 7, TBD

Game 5 (if needed): Sunday, Aug. 9, TBD